Christmas 2013

So a little bit of a preface, this is kind of a winding rant, and while it’s free for everyone to read and do what they will with it, I wrote this with someone in mind, someone I care about who suffered a very sudden tragic family loss this close to Christmas, which is a loss that no amount of words could solve. So yeah, I’m sorry if this is both too nonsense and sombre in advance

So, Christmas. It’s the time of giving, family, celebrating and generally the about the positive excess of the human spirit, one day dedicated to being thoroughly a good human being. Or at least that’s how it’s wrote on paper. The reality is somewhat.. more commercial. These days, and for decades now it’s been increasingly a congealment of consumerism and act of useless gifting. It’s hard,too, to stay true to the original concept too, consuming stuff is just such an inviting and simple thing, so you could see how someone could easily become cynical for the season.

I’ll confess I have become cynical (and I mean, have you SEEN the shocking abominations of Christmas campaigns in stores this year?), which is a shame because I used to be ALL about Christmas, quite actually. But this is 2013, my personal JDAM of existential quarter life crisis, and I’ve made it my own personal to try and make sense of everything the ball hit, evaluate what’s still standing, and that’s something I’d like to pass on, a new way to make sense of it all. Christmas is no different.

Story time-

Mid last week I was in Midland Gate, the shopping centre that defines living in the north-eastern suburbs (small, not as wealthy as it seems, actually quite old, recently renovated to interest new money), taking in the tacky Christmas slogans and wares, doing the passive mental task of coming up with jabs for each of them as I passed, while the rest of the shopping party did the far less constructive thing of going into shops and sampling the wares. You know how it is, enter the centre, switch off brain, don’t get mad.

So we were walking along, and suddenly I spied a Jewelery store with a placard out the front. Now, Midland Gate has no less than five permenant jewelers in it’s walls, and all of them had enticements to the effects of “give something REALLY special this Christmas”, while doling out what is effectively their equivalent of bargain bin finger ornaments. So I saw the placard, the big juicy budget ring at the “low low price”, the diamond necklace of zircon , but then I saw the slogan on it

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Now, look at that phrase, “CELEBRATE Every Day”. The contempt for the holiday spirit shown in 3 words, my boiled instantly boiled looking at it. They would have you believe that luxury items are the way to celebrate life, and nay, that celebration of excess must continue every day? What a load. So, after taking a photo for the sake of mockery, I continued on, stewing. The words though, they stuck in my head and latched onto other thoughts in my mind.

Now, 2013’s been a bit of a shit year for positive thought for me, started with about 3 months of low sleep PURELY from existential thoughts just bombarding me while trying to rest, with their tendrils weaving their effects throughout the year. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of has been categorised by a massive resurgence of self-confidence issues, which left lingering thoughts in my mind. Most resolved now ,thankfully, but some still stick in my head on occasion.Anyway.

Here’s the result of two hours of stewing those words with the remaining unresolved questions in my mind.

Step back from that placard and it’s dumb slogan for a second. We are all exactly mortal, no more or less than that. We are born, we will die. We will make mistakes, we will achieve great things in the days we’ve got on this earth. What matters is that you recognise that your life is both long and significant from your own view.

It is finite however, and as is everyone elses, so when you lose someone close it’s like dinner bell reminder of that fact, on top of the sheer concept of that person no longer being a part of your life. Everyone has a Trenzalore, and fortunately, most don’t get the burden of foreknowledge about it. So the thing that is ultimately important in amongst this absolute uncontrollable time and finality is one thing-

Celebrate. EVERY day.

The slogan was right, but the emphasis was wrong.

Each day you live is one given to you by atomic reactions begun billions of years ago. There are literally infinite probabilities that could caused the perfect aligning of things to happen that came to make you as a living person.

The old saying goes- “Live today as if you’re going to die tomorrow”, but I think that’s a little too desperate and dire. The more important thing is to understand to yourself that each day is unique and your standing there to experience it is against ASTRONOMIC odds, and everyone else who is with you on any given day too, is beating odds that only astrophysicists could calculate.

Make those odds count, acknowledge everyone to who you share the day with, and to remember the ones who the astronomic odds tragically caught up with, and importantly, remember them for all the days they were with you, as part of your life and you as part of theirs ,because those are significant days, every single one of them, and the only times worth being remembered.

So bringing it back to Christmas. Christmas is probably the greatest opportunity to acknowledge the single more important thing in life – that you are not alone is defying every single odd, and likewise , to those who share your days, they too are not alone, and to tell them and display your appreciation for their . Oh sure, there’s Christian dogma too that some people go for, but to me, that’s what Christmas is. All the fellowship, the caring, it’s all ultimately in the service of that one goal- Displaying your appreciation to family and friends for being part of your life.

Everything else is just tertiary guff, even the pudding and turkey.

So that’s kind of where I’m at, I guess I’m kind of back in the Christmas spirit. Maybe not in the direct “Red,Green and White” sense, but in the personal acknowledging of the people around me who make this astronomically improbably life worth trying to continue. I think I can say this to about everyone who reads this super unimportant super un-updated blog,  Thankyou for making my days richer.

 

 

 

Celebrate EVERY day.

 

 

 

Circlular Rambling

I’ve discovered I’m in a kind of an interesting quandary regarding the intellectual level-grind I persist somehow to continue with mixed determination. It’s an issue I’ll admit despite the ultimate outcome of this endeavour, I haven’t actually thought about, largely due to there “always being jobs in America and Europe”( might actually be a tad optimistic of me , but there you go). ED Note: This is a bit of a ramble, apologies ahead of time.

The local, and by local, I mean Australia-wide game developer market fell through.. actually not too long after I started this Uni dig.Like I mentioned before, I shrugged it off, like I said, because there’s ultimately more jobs elsewhere and REALISTICALLY, aside from job satisfaction and my BURNING passion for creation, I could work in Fast food and not be too phased over short term periods until it rebounds (as long as I could vent creatively, which I do already). Here’s where it gets sticky, it really hasn’t rebounded, and aside from Indie, there are STILL significantly few places in the broader industry down here than there was 5 years ago.

This wouldn’t have phased me two years ago, but since I’m now somewhat educate and, honestly, probably a bit more paranoid, it’s actually got me a bit apprehensive. Now, I could just go straight into doing my own indie thing, and I have plans to do so, however it leaves to me, a significant void of.. well, actual industry contact. Going straight from Academia to Indie would kind of cut out a vital portion of the experience loop for me, especially as someone who wants to get into 3D animation (something that while I don’t to say in definite terms abhors, certainly has an aversion to on the surface). Granted I’ve done a lot of (pro-Bono) mod work and that bulks up for SOME experience, it’s not the same. I am literally chomping at the bit to do for reals animation work nowadays. Which means, more than two years ago, I WILL be moving somewhere foreign.. and that kind of depresses me.

So I’ve always known that Perth is quite literally the last stop for civilisation, and it’s the furthest edge of civilisation from New York, so everything gets here last, overpriced, and already a bit dinged on the edges. And I KNEW, two years ago that following my interests meant leaving Perth, and I was kind of okay with that, knowing that Australia as a whole was probably the same. Since then, I’ve actually left the Home State, traveled to another city and seen that no, in fact, no city is Perth. Melbourne… Melbourne is HUGE, and it’s not even the biggest city in Australia. By comparison , Perth feels positively rural (and it in many ways is). Which had me thinking- if a city THIS big, and 2 others like it alone can’t support even secondary studio support to BIG game development, what chance does Perth have? The realisation was, not a lot. Which depressed me further.

I love my Perth, for all its backwards, lethargic,reactionary,casuality. It’s a wonderful notion to be in the heart of bustling city,not knowing a single name, but to instantly through happenstance get Perthed on a semi-regular basis. Perhaps that’s a bit wistful, but I can’t say I felt the same about Melbourne. Granted, I was a tourist so I didn’t really know anyone there, but the attitude just didn’t seem to en-kindle that spirit- the City’s too big for it. Hell, the State’s probably to big for it (Victorian’s LOVE their state), but everything’s there, there’s no comradery about the place, it’s a catered-for environment.There is everything there, nothing is actually left for wanting.

My greatest fear about my inevitable departure from Perth is that once I’m gone, I’m never going to find a place anywhere near what Perth is like, again. The busses are crap, but everyone who rides them know what EVERY other public transport goer is going through. The roads are a mess of over-congested routes directly next to mediocre-to-poorly maintained local roads, but everyone on the roads knows the deal, so to some degree there’s kinship there. Living as a whole’s more expensive, entertainment’s more scarce, but everyone does what they can with what they’ve got, and for the most part a bad situation is made nicer by the comfort of knowing everyone else is is a similar boat. It’s the unwritten contract about Perth- If you live here, you will be put at the VERY end of the cue for everything you want, but you will be in a city-sized group that empathises with your plights(because they too have to deal with them) , and if you do right by the city, within a year you’ll be getting Perthed on a daily basis, and the fact that it takes 45 minutes to go 20 kilometers East-West across the city (or.. one and half hours on busses to do a trip that’s 15 minutes in a car) would just be a good time to break out the iPod and put on some of your favourite tunes while appreciating that yet again it’s going to be a Scorcher summer. So I guess coming full circle about my job prospects, I could certainly live in Melbourne, within mere 4 hour flight distance of Perth, if there was a job there. I guess the same goes for all the eastern states ports of call. Living 36 hours flight from Perth? I.. I just don’t know.

 

I guess the rub is Updated Tuesdays is .. at least in my main head-canon.. is a sort of however-long-it-lasts semi-ode to the nature of the capital of Westralia- A creative outpouring about the city that contradicts it’s phyiscal size and amenities with it’s wealth of personality.

 

I must apologise, I do ramble on. I suppose that’s why I started blogging in the first place, I do a lot of thinking, and sometimes, you know, I just can’t find a good enough other outlet to express that than writing out a page of ramble.

Explanations – The Niia at “The Court” Arc – Wait, what, why? ._.

I want to clear up the whole thing about this arc that I’ve been going on. Inception, development, connotations, whatever, the whole nine yards, because I feel I need, and want, to explain it as this whole thing might have came off as a bit of a left veer from the usual barely decipherable in-jokes and laconic dry wit that people might have been expecting out of this admittedly “meh” web-comic.

It’d be easy to just write off the whole thing as an “I am bored with doing game humor and dry wit” , but if I were to be honest with myself, this is an exercise, and an exorcise.

When I started Updated Tuesdays with Rob, WAY back before I knew better than the massive time-sink it actually turned out to be, I really didn’t have a goal with it, no overarching style or tone guide. Nothing, just me, rob and the vague goal of doing a web-comic. Then about two, three comics in, I came up with a female character. No explanation, no introduction, just existed. You can see where a problem might arise if she weren’t given some character.

Well, that was a problem, actually is a problem at large with the whole thing. None of the characters had identifiable traits, aside from some aesthetics. For a long time I’ve wanted to give all three of the main cast- Toadie, Rob and Niia-proper character traits. I’ve tried a couple of times previously to infuse these into the strip,but I’ve either found better material  at those times, or like the League of Deadly Gentlemen, I began to not “feel” it shortly in and dropped it fast. Really this is the second serious attempt at it, and by sticking to it rather than interspersing with quicker, more time-relevant strips, I’ve been able to focus the Juju into a cohesive beam on a character that sorely needed more than “You’re just Toadie’s opposite, a bit of a bitch and a ball-breaker” as a definition. I mean she’s still sort of that, but, you know.. she’s more than that now.

The second was a serious attempt to write the comic. Tying into that first aspect, I really wanted to get UT to be something that was given more than jsut the weekly funnies/4Koma treatment. I wanted to try writing narrative, which is something I don’t think is one of my stronger suites. I don’t plan ahead, and as such you get that hodgpodge effect that a lot of game-ish web-comics suffer from . So I gave myself a direct goal – Narrative, organised and somewhat scheduled. I was set to this, and with the vague idea of making Niia her own character, I made/am making it happen. I wanted to see where I could take my blatant Manga influences and whether or not I could indeed write characters properly, and bring them to fruition through both dialog AND presence in art.
Juries still out on that last bit, so throw me your two cents on it.

The third is personal agendas, multiple.I’m a complex being, why not multiple axes to grind?

THe first of which is to portray my homecity of Perth somewhat realistically- bogans and all.
Perth has actually been undergoing a bit of a change the last 5 years, but  was, and still is, and will still foreseeably be, a quiet backwater city in the world, where nothing REALLY happens thanks to the sheer geographic isolation. I guess under it all is a sort of ironic patriotism of living in a global Cul De Sac – it’s quiet, but that’s the way I’d prefer it.Sort of like how my influences use Visual elements of life in Japan, from mere colouring to full setting, I wanted to bring in the colour and feel of Perth into the comic. I’m not sure I’m fully delivering on this agenda yet, but I really feel I’ve started, and I intend to explore it more.

The second bone on the pile is the romance plot. I’ll openly admit that this year has not been GREAT one for me socially, and despite being quite literally more busy than I think is actually possible for a person without actual employment (University study does not count as employment I’m told),  I’ve been getting so little out-of-Internet and out-of-tutorial socialising that I think small bits of my psyche died when I was made redundant from work, only to be informed not a month later that the guy who made me redundant did so to grind his own bone with my former employer and that my redundancy was for naught. So this is bit of a “walking my loneliness on a leash” for a bit. I’m exorcising that in a way I HOPE doesn’t actually come off as either directly insulting to women, particularly gay ones, and isn’t rushed. My intent was neither, though ,like before, Jury is still out.

So- what’s in store for the rest of the arc? One and half more pages, methinks. than an epilogue. Then a break for New year. Which will bethe ACTUAL anniversary of the conceptual reboot in the making of UT, as marked by the Niia picture ( still in the old style) that featured in a panel on P45.

The break will be good methinks, Big year ahead, big ideas.

So yes, that’s uh.. the why and how of this. I really wanted to put this to paper for fear of being misconstrued. I’d really appreciate feed back if you felt like giving it, I’d really like to know what I’d doing right and wrong by people here.

 

I’m Dopplerfied.

Okay so there’s an evil doppler out there claiming to be me at clubs and hitting on her friends (or more accurately , claiming to be the brother of my sister as she’s the comparatively more popular one). Clearly this was not me for the following reasons-

1) I don’t do nightclubs. This is a no brainer, large crowds freak me out, and that amplififes while drunk. Bars, sure. Parties, when I can. Not nightclubs.

2) Three degrees of separation. I, personally, try to keep my friends separate from my sisters. Not that they’re bad or anything, I just find that hers are not my kind of friend. Getting it on with a friend of my sister? No thanks, high risk of having to get with that group

3) HIGHLY UNCOMFORTABLE levels of OPSEC breach. I try to run my life with a certain amount of OPSEC, having other people know only what they need to at any one point in time. It manages to keep the trackability to a level where I’m comfortable. Now- can you imagine, for a second, your FAMILY knowing literally all your personal movements?

Now, my Family’s pretty tight, lots of cross-communication and such, to which I’m more of an observer than anything but anyway. Like let’s say for arguments sake that a hookup was made with one of said sister’s friends and lets say for arguments sake, you went “off the grid” for a night in which things happened. I would have literally HOURS before I am tracked,hunted and made the item of endless internal discussion about for… about however long that relationship last PLUS 6 months. That’s not even accounting for other breaches of OPSEC that this has the potential for.

I mean this isn’t to say I’m never going to risk an OPSEC breach for some tail or whatever, but when you’ve got a feedback loop as close as the other party STRAIGHT to the ear of a family member is alarming. There would be no way to cover it up either, because I don’t run in my sister’s circle of friends and she doesn’t REALLY run in mine, so multiple hookups aren’t going to be unnoticed.

4) Not my style. Even if I was into nightclubs, pickups there are not my style.

Let it be known that if the person in question didn’t look like my facebook picture, you have my blessing to blow that rape whistle so hard his eardrums burst OR kick to the pills.

 

Toadie Gold Standard. Accept no imitations.

A Few words about Joshiraku

Hello, yes I’m back on to the fully-fledged blogging once again. There’s many subjects I’d like to get to in a short while, but in reverse order chronologically I’d like to start with the simplest.

I’ll make no bones about it, I was not looking at the summer 2012 anime carnival and leaping with sheer joy. In fact after Spring’s lineup, which to me was an amazing powerhouse, Summer’s offerings seemed a bit anemic to my tastes. A filler until Autumn when once again we will feast at the table of Hidamari, if you will… But I digress. After taking a sampling set of what I surmised as the least likely to be shit out of the lot, I was actually genuinely surprised when I found a show in the sampling which rocked my socks – Joshiraku.

For those not familiar with the finer points of this, it’s a show about a rakugo club. More interestingly, the show is in effect a sort of rakugo itself. Rakugo is a Japanese comedic performance, generally consisting of a lone performer, no props, telling long-format humorous stories, generally culminating in a literary punch line. I guess the format of the punchline could be considered a pun, or a play on words, but that gives puns too much credit and rakugo not enough. The format of rakugo finds its’ way into a lot of comedy and slice of life shows, the latter and former owing greatly in the more cerebral moments to the theatrics and formulations of the historical stage presentation. Shows like Azumanga Daoih and Nichijou both play on the format extensively, for example.

In any case, as with most comedy I love Rakugo. Up until now however I was entirely convinced that there would never be a show dedicated to it. For one, it’s static performance, it doesn’t lend well to dedicated animation. Joshiraku proves me wrong, and what’s more, it’s apparently been given ludicrous amounts of animation budget for a comparatively simple show. For a show that is 5 characters talking for 24 minutes, and that’s it, it’s been given a CRAPLOAD of character and money. I really can’t stress enough how impressed I was by this show. The writing was tight, the colour and character was vibrant, the animation was above and beyond,  and holy shit was the ED theme catchy.

If you’re looking for a reccommendation out of me for the currect season, Joshiraku. I highly reccommend it. If they keep up this momentum, it’s definately goinfg to be i nthe top 5 of this year for me.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tari Tari was a complete let down. What I thought was going to be the one I liked was the one I felt fell right flat. It’s a slice of life, again, about a club, again..a music club… again. With excellent backgrounds.

That’s about it. The characters weren’t endearing or interesting, except maybe the German kid, none of the characters seems to emote, and the plot seems to get lost amongst itself. Given that that was episode 1 only, I have concerns.